Mark Rothko 1968: Clearing Away

Mark Rothko,Pace London

Mark Rothko 1968: Clearing Away will be the first exhibition in Pace’s new London gallery on Hanover Square.

The exhibition features rarely seen paintings on paper from the final years of Mark Rothko’s life. This landmark exhibition will be the first in the United Kingdom that is solely dedicated to the artist’s extraordinary paper-based practice. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction by Christopher Rothko and a new essay by art historian Eleanor Nairne, curator at the Barbican Art Gallery.

Mark Rothko 1968: Clearing Away brings together key paintings from Rothko’s renowned body of work made in the late 1960s—a significant and prolific period in the artist’s life. In the wake of a particularly difficult bout of ill health and a tumultuous time in his personal life, Rothko was forced to reduce the scale of his practice from his signature monumental canvas to more intimately sized paper. Despite physical limitations, Rothko worked feverishly with a renewed enthusiasm for colour, delighted by the effect of acrylic paint, which he had newly discovered.

These jewel-like paintings encourage intimate examination, offering a meditative, pulsating quality that envelops viewers within their frame. Rendered in an array of pigments, from the deepest blue to riotous pink, Rothko’s manipulation of colour and light is masterful. Central to his iconic sectional compositions is Rothko’s unique

negotiation of space. He creates visual tension through rectangular forms that are at once contained yet expansive. Rothko’s expert layering and feathering of colour create the illusion of luminous, infinite space, yet the painting’s edge maintains focus within the colour-field.

Greatly influenced by the writings of Nietzsche—who advocated for the importance of an artist’s freedom from the physical world in order to arrive at ideas of eternity and the mythic—Rothko explained that his ultimate ambition was ‘the elimination of all obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer.’ The paintings borne from this singular moment in the artist’s life represent the realization of this lifelong endeavour, showcasing his enduring will to clear away all ties to representation and refine his vision of boundlessness.

The comparatively small scale of these works allows viewers an intimate encounter, fulfilling Rothko’s desire to collapse boundaries between artist and viewer. Rothko playfully suggested that the optimal distance from which to engage with these works was 18 inches away, mirroring his own proximity to the paintings as he made them. This exhibition offers viewers a rare glimpse into the artist’s more spontaneous practice as he experimented with colour and medium, unencumbered by the demands of large-scale canvases.

This exhibition coincides with Tate Britain’s landmark display of Rothko’s 1958 Seagram Murals in dialogue with paintings by J.M.W. Turner. The suite of large-scale paintings originally intended for the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York were given by the artist to the Tate in 1969, arriving in London in 1970. This new display marks 50 years since the iconic paintings came to London, fulfilling Rothko’s wish to have his work hung beside the British painter he deeply admired.

Duration 08 October 2021 - 13 November 2021
Times see website - advance booking required
Cost Free
Venue Pace London
Address 5 Hanover Square, London, W1S 1HD
Contact 4402032067600 / /